Insights on Inmates
Release Date: October 20, 2000
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong,
Seymour Cassel, Mickey Roarke,
Danny Trejo, Steve Buscemi, &
Genre: Prison Drama
Runtime: 95 minutes
Distributor: Silver Nitrate Releasing
Director: Steve Buscemi
Executive Producer: Allen Cohen & Barry Cohen
Producer: Julie Yorn, Elie Samaha,
Andrew Stevens, & Steve
Writer: Edward Bunker & John Steppling
Address Comments To:No address available.
Based on a novel by a real ex-convict, the story focuses on 25-year-old Ron Decker, who’s placed into Eastern State Penitentiary for trafficking in drugs. Edward Furlong, the teenage boy in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, plays Ron, whose ignorance, good looks and vulnerability immediately arouse the worst instincts of his fellow convicts. Ron finds a friend, however, in the form of Earl Copen, the leader of the most powerful clique of white convicts at the prison. Earl helps Ron avoid a gang rape and coaches him through the intricacies of the prison’s job system.
Trouble surfaces, however, when Ron decides he wants to take revenge against another white prisoner, who tries to rape Ron in one scene. The movie builds suspense by keeping viewers wondering whether Earl can keep Ron from doing something that will add years to his sentence and whether Earl has some ulterior, hidden motive in helping Ron.
ANIMAL FACTORY goes over the line in terms of language, but is relatively restrained for an R-rated movie revealing the harsh realities of prison life. The movie’s basic thrust, however, is not to launch into some political diatribe like the movie THE CONTENDER. Rather, it concentrates on the specific situations and dilemmas facing the characters, especially Ron and Earl. Also, although the movie makes a sympathetic character out of Earl, a hardened criminal who does bad things as well as good things, Earl doesn’t fully get away with his criminal behavior at the end. In that way, it reminds one of some old-fashioned prison dramas where the criminal friend of the hero must suffer the consequences for the bad things he does.
Of course, the Christian view of prisons is that they are a necessary place in which to keep violent criminals. That doesn’t mean, however, that prisoners should get away with homosexual rape and murder of other prisoners. After all, rape and murder are crimes that receive the death penalty under the Mosaic laws in the Hebrew Scriptures. Numbers 35:31 indicates, however, that, unlike a murderer, a rapist may be able to pay a ransom, or a significant amount of money, to escape the death penalty. In any case, the prison authorities should certainly separate a prisoner who engages in homosexual rape from the other prisoners completely, perhaps in solitary confinement. Finally, although there is forgiveness and redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ, that doesn’t mean that the government shouldn’t force people who commit crimes, even Christians, to pay their just penalties under the law.
ANIMAL FACTORY goes over the line in terms of language, but is otherwise relatively restrained for an R-rated movie revealing the harsh realities of prison life. The movie’s thrust is to concentrate on the specific situations facing the characters. Although it makes a sympathetic character out of Earl, a hardened criminal who does bad things as well as good things, Earl doesn’t fully get away with his criminal behavior. In that way, it reminds one of old-fashioned prison dramas where the criminal friend of the hero must suffer the consequences for the bad things he does.